Over 80 passengers have been rescued from a ferry that ran aground on an uninhabited island in the Pentland Firth.
Pentland Ferries confirmed the MV Alfred had been refloated after coming ashore on Swona during a crossing between Gills Bay and St Margaret’s Hope.
Two RNLI lifeboats from Longhope and Thurso were immediately scrambled to the island shortly after 2.00pm on Tuesday to evacuate those on board.
They were transferred to the port on South Ronaldsay where paramedics were on standby, according to the operator.
One person has been rushed to hospital in Kirkwall due to injuries suffered in the incident. Their condition is currently unknown.
HM Coastguard is now guiding the boat back into its final destination, a spokesperson for Pentland Ferries said.
“We can confirm the MV Alfred grounded on the island of Swona at 1400 this afternoon,” she added.
“The vessel has 82 passengers on board. The ship is now back in the water and is being escorted back to St Margaret’s Hope.
“Passengers had already been transferred to the lifeboats before the ship was refloated.
“They are also being transferred to St Margaret’s Hope. An ambulance is on standby to deal with potential injuries.
“The safety of passengers is, of course, our first priority.
“A further statement will be issued, as soon as we have more information.”
The vessel, which can transport more than 400 passengers and almost 100 cars, entered service on the route in 2019.
A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesperson said: “At approximately 2pm today, HM Coastguard were alerted to a passenger ferry carrying 97 people on board having gone aground on the Isle of Swona.
“Thurso and Longhope all-weather lifeboats were sent to provide safety cover and begin evacuating the passengers from the ferry to the lifeboat while the ETV Ievoli Black was sent to provide a tow if required.
“The vessel was refloated within an hour and a half before continuing, under its own power, to St Margaret’s Hope.”
She added: “It has been escorted by the two lifeboats as well as two tugs from Orkney. Coastguard Rescue Teams from Kirkwall and St Margaret’s Hope were also sent to meet the vessel at port.”
A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We received a call at 15:26 and sent one ambulance and a patient transport vehicle to the scene. One patient was transported to Balfour Hospital, Kirkwall.”